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Updated: July 4, 2014 15:13 IST

“ ‘My Lord’ more classical than colonial”

Special Correspondent
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Justice V. Ramasubramaian delivering a lecture on Justice and Literature at Madurai Bar Association. Photo: G. Moorthy
The Hindu Justice V. Ramasubramaian delivering a lecture on Justice and Literature at Madurai Bar Association. Photo: G. Moorthy

Says even Avvayyar and Sekkizhar had spoken about legal concepts

Justice V. Ramasubramanian of the Madras High Court made many eyebrows rise in surprise on Wednesday by stating that the practice of addressing judges as ‘My Lord’ was more classical than colonial since such reference could be found even in ‘Thirukkural,’ an ancient compilation of Tamil couplets penned by Thiruvalluvar.

Delivering a scintillating speech on ‘Law and Literature’ at the literature festival of Madurai Bar Association on the High Court Bench campus here, he said that the Tamil word ‘Needhi’ used at present to refer to justice could not be found in any of the ancient Tamil texts because it came into usage only in the sixth century, after the Jain period.

The word used before the sixth century in Tamil to refer to justice was ‘Muraimai,’ the judge said, and cited a Thirukkural couplet which states that the one who delivers justice is equal to God. “So, probably this is why you all refer to judges as My Lord,” Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian said amid thunderous applause from the gathering of advocates.

Pointing out the subtle difference between oath and affirmation, the judge said the former refers to a vow taken in the name of God and the latter to a vow taken in the name of conscience. Stating that the practice of taking affirmation could be found even in the ancient ‘Tiruneelakanda Nayanar Puranam,’ the judge said the English began practising it only after 1873.

Hailing the Tamils for having created many a revolution in the ancient times, he said traces of procedural law could be found in ‘Periya Puranam,’ and punishment for delivering a wrong judgement in ‘Kamba Ramayanam.’

He said Avvaiyyar had spoken about lying in court and Sekkizhar dealt with concepts such as destruction of evidence.

In another talk on ‘Kamban and Kannadasan’ at Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court Bar Association on Thursday, he said Kannadasan got inspiration for many famous lyrics from ‘Kamba Ramayanam.’ One of the songs listed by him was ‘Paarthen, sirithen, pakkam vara thudithen,’ song from 1965 Tamil flick ‘Veera Abhimanyu.’

“In that song, Kannadasan used 30 words ending with ‘then.’ It was inspired from one of Kamban’s poem in which he used ‘then’ five times,” the judge said.

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